Evolution and domestication of the canine Essay

There are many different beliefs on how the dog evolved. With scientific evidence and genetic information it is believed that dogs are a subspecies of wolf; which over thousands of years have evolved and domesticated. Humans have had a dramatic influence on the changes and the diversity in which led the dog to evolve.

According to several studies it is believed that humans influenced the creation of different breeds due to diverse skills and training that humans taught. There are over 340 breeds of dog known throughout the world, these breeds have been categorised by kennel clubs. The United Kingdom Kennel Club split the dog breeds into two main categories, sporting and non-sporting. All different breed of dog have different abilities and excel in certain tasks and roles; for example a working dog such as a Rottweiler could not burrow and hunt like a scent hound but a scent hound would not have the physical abilities to fulfil the roles of a working dog. Hounds are a sporting breed which were originally bred for hunting. There are two main traits in hounds; sight and scent. Sight hounds being tall and fast allowing them to use their sight clearly to hunt prey. Scent hounds are smaller and shorter this allows them to be closer to the ground to track scent. Dachshunds are categorised as a scent hound as they were bred to flush out prey from burrows, their characters enabled them to hunt with humans as they are gentle and naturally good with people. Their size and long bodies benefit them as they are agile enough to hunt in small inaccessible places.

Gundogs are a sporting breed bred for hunting. One characteristic of gundogs are the floppy ears, this protects them from the undergrowth. There are four sub groups of gundogs all excelling in different tasks. The Golden Retriever is a retrieving gundog, their role is to find and retrieve mainly birds back to the hunter. Golden Retrievers have many positive behavioural traits and are very friendly when it comes to people, this allows training to be successful in a short space of time. Pastoral dogs are a non sporting breed they were bred to herd and/or drive livestock. The Border Collie is categorised as a pastoral breed as they have been commonly utilized by shepherds, they are attractive for this role as they are highly intelligent which allows them to train more efficiently. Border collies require high levels of mental and physical stimulation which is why herding is beneficial to this breed.

Working dogs are a non sporting breed they were bred to rescue, guard and pull sleds. The German Shepherd is categorised as a working breed as they are widely trained in most aspects of security. German Shepherds have many of the characteristics that make training more efficient they are a very obedient breed. Being physically strong with a good temperament and incredibly agile German Shepherds visually are more valued as a guard dog. German shepherds are one of the most used for scent roles such as narcotics and bombs. Police force commonly use German shepherds for tracking the scent of people and objects. Through artificial selection inbreeding for ‘pure’ breeds has caused genetic disorders and issues in most breeds. The English bulldog is a brachycephalic breed; this means their skull (upper jaw and nose) structure is shortened. The soft tissues remain unchanged causing them to develop in a much smaller space, this leads to narrowing and increased resistance in the respiratory system. The English bulldog is mostly severely affected by this disorder as it is a hereditary disorder. There are a few clinical signs associated with BAOS, these signs include;

• Stenotic Nares (narrowing nostrils)

• Strident respiration worsened by exercise or excitement

• Difficulty breathing caused by high temperature

• Coughing, gagging and vomiting

BAOS cannot be prevented as it is an anatomy defect but their are ways breed owners can

relieve discomfort with lifestyle changes. Neutering will prevent the affected dog from passing on the disorder through autosomal dominant inheritance. Keeping your pet at a healthy weight and maintaining that weight will help prevent discomfort as overweight animal struggle with breathing due to excessive amount of pressure caused by fat. Strenuous exercise can cause heat stroke and hyperventilation due to the animal exhaling more carbon dioxide and struggling to inhale enough oxygen to balance. Using harnesses when on a walk rather than collars will prevent pressure on the respiratory

system. This will help maintain a healthy breathing balance and also prevent choking and

gagging.

It is important to understand the roots as it guides our understanding of the species and how to achieve a great breed fit for the role it is bred to do but without the breed specific genetics.

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